At Least for Now is the debut studio album by English musician, singer, and poet Benjamin Clementine. It was recorded after Clementine gained critical acclaim with his two previous EPs. Clementine returned to London in the new year to record his album, just as his career was starting to take off. He moved to Kensington High Street with a friend he'd met in Tuscany then went back to Edmonton for a period of time until At Least for Now was completed. The album won the 2015 Mercury Music Prize.
Reviewer Calum Bradbury-Sparvell described the cover, noting, "Clementine stands in a shadowy profile with a Granny Smith cupped in his right hand, as if the Magritte's Son Of Man had finally plucked the offending fruit from his face, but promptly swiveled away from the limelight. An appropriate symbol for this debut LP, during which the mythos of the Edmonton-raised Métro busker, who went from sleeping rough to impressing Macca in a barefoot Later With Jools Holland performance, dissipates only to reveal something more inscrutable: a stranger in a trench coat."
Behind released At Least for Now in Europe on February 13, 2015. It reached the iTunes Top 10 in Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland and Greece. In France, it went number 1, and has been certified Gold. The album was also well received by music critics, who praised its mixture of genres and uniqueness.
Phil Mongredien from the guardian said that Clementine’s tumultuous back story (a strict Christian childhood in London, a spell living rough in Paris and busking on the Métro) had given him plenty of fascinating source material from which to craft his songs. His resulting debut album is bold, brave, beautiful, and at times quite brilliant. Clementine cites Anohni as a formative influence, and certainly there are vocal similarities. But for the most part these piano-led songs sound unique. The lonely despair of Cornerstone and the arresting lyricism of Condolence signalling an exciting new talent.
Nake Chinen from The New York Times, said that as for Clementine's actual voice, it’s a strange and frequently stunning instrument, a blade like tenor that can swoop into either a clarion cry or a guttural scowl. The inevitable comparison, notably on a song like "Adios", is to Nina Simone — to her demonstrative clarity of phrase, and the flickering incandescence of her timbre.AllMusic's Timothy Monger said that At Least for Now makes its case as a one-man show for piano and voice. The compelling British singer/songwriter is dramatic, self-assured, and theatrical in the extreme, boasting a powerful voice that swells to fill the room, which, on this unique record, seems to expand and shrink at the drop of a hat. At Least for Now is a pop record of sorts, but completely on his own terms, and like Anohni (an acknowledged influence) and Rufus Wainwright, two artists who have similar aspirations of pseudo-classical grandeur, Clementine will no doubt be polarizing for many listeners. There is no question, however, of his raw talent, poeticism, and knack for beguiling melodies, and in this oversaturated market, the true mavericks will always rise above the din.
Critics, however, also found At Least for Now to be the least memorable of Clementine's studio releases. According to Dave Simpson, it was the least impressive from Clementine as it is reminiscent of Kevin Rowland in that he sounds as if he is singing from the gut, and because he has to. If only he had a Rowlands’ economy: mannered vocal flourishes complicate the melodies when what’s needed is simplicity. The addition of syrupy strings and pedestrian drumming further dilutes the impact of his raw talent. However, when he performs unadorned, melodies dripping from his fingertips, and expressing himself, his voice is difficult to forget.